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Here comes the Circumcision Police

Kempner 1
It is worth knowing that the now world famous anti-circumcision bill in Iceland uses the Icelandic word líkamsárás about circumcision of male children. Let me translate this word for you. Literally it means a bodily attack. Definitions like a bodily attack, molestation, child molestation etc. are widely used by anti-circumcision activist. Their primitive vocabulary doesn´t match their allegedly noble issue.

Despite of the rogue and misleading vocabulary of anti-circumcision activists and their often more or less anti-Semitic and Islamophobe supporters, the anti-circumcision bill in Iceland preposes punishment for circumcision of male children with up to 6 years in prison for those who might violate the preposed addition to the penal code, which they are trying to introduce to criminalize circumcision of a religious practice. Yes, I wrote penal code (the criminal legislation). This is not a law about a health issue and protection of children. This is a bill which criminalizes a religious practice of Jews and Muslims - which should be protected by the Freedom of religion acts in the Icelandic law and the constitution of Iceland.

Please imagine this scenario: 

The Icelandic circumcision police enters the buildings, where Jews and Muslims live. See before you how their special squad runs up the stairs, brakes down the doors and apprehends the parents of illegally circumcised children, who are taken from their parents, while they are left in an Icelandic prison for six years.

Please apologize if your imagination gives similar images in you mind, to a Gestapo-raid.  Do the people who propose the introduction to a circumcision ban into the Penal code of Iceland, realize what kind of horrors they might be afflicting on the the children, whose parents will be sent to prison because they wanted their sons to follow the religion and practices of their ancestors?

Some of you might now be thinking: He is pulling the Hitler-card out of his hat. But no, there is not magic hat nor a bag of tricks. I leave those methods to the opponents of religious circumcision. With my Gestapo-vision transferred to a stairway in Reykjavík, one might think I was Hitlerizing the opponent. Let me enlighten you. Mrs. Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, the primary  presenter of the anti-circumcision penal code addition in Iceland is a member of the old Icelandic political Party, Framsóknarflokkur (Progressive Party), which today is defined as a centre-right, populist and agrarian party.

Originally and traditionally Framsóknarflokkur was a conservative and nationalistic farmers´ party, the equivalent to similar agrarian parties in Scandinavia. This party was the most ardent opponent against Jewish asylum seekers in Iceland in the 1930s.  The Framsóknarflokkur was the most active political entity in preventing Jews in finding  safe haven in the country, even more so than the non-parliamentary Icelandic Nazi party.  Gunnarsdóttir´s party caused the "NO", which Jewish refugees received as responses to their asylum requests. Most of the people writing to the Icelandic embassy in Copenhagen, or Danish embassies and consulates [who took care of Icelandic intrestes ] in Nazi Germany and Anschluss-Austria were killed in the Holocaust. When Jews, who made it to Iceland, like young Alfred Kempner did, was expelled in 1939, the officials who all were members of the Framsóknarflokkur wrote a letter to the authorities in Norway and Denmark, in which the Icelandic Police director wrote:

I take the liberty of requesting, that the [Danish] Police, if he might not recieve a residents permit in Denmark, takes care of his further deportation to Germany. The costs for occurring expenses by this will of course be taken care of here.

Hermann Jónasson (Framsóknarflokkur) the Icelandic foreign minister in 1937 told C.A.C. Brun, a Danish diplomat in the Danish Embassy in Reykjavík who was deeply engaged in helping Jews in Reykjavík, that he would give a one year extension to the residents permit for the Jewish family Rottberger from Berlin, but foreign minister Jónasson added:

It is a principal, Iceland has always been a pure Nordic country, free of Jews, and those who have come here in later years must leave again.

If one looks at the supporters of the anti-Circumcision bill, it is obvious that a small proportion of them have high values relating to worries about pain and side effects for a circumcised child. The wast majority of supporters, however (an this can easily be witnessed in public discussions in Iceland), are still thinking like xenophobes, just as Hermann Jónasson did in 1937 - about the pure Nordic race of Iceland. 

Alfred Kempner, who came from Leipzig, in a Danish mugshot from 1940, when the Danes were trying to get the German occupants to deport him to Germany. The ilustration at the beginning of the essay is my vision of the apprehension fo Kempner in Reykjavík before he was expelled to Denmark.

The Framsóknaflokkur has never apologized for its anti-Semitic agenda in the past. They were also among other parties in Iceland who asked the American forces based in Iceland for decades not to bring black servicemen to Iceland nor those of Slavonic or Jewish extraction. They never came around to apologize for the partys´ racist views before some of their politicians again were involved in a disgusting anti-Muslim and anti-Mosque dialogue which pestered Icelandic public life few years ago.

Recently I spoke to my good friend Felix Rottberger, the first Jew to ever be born in Iceland, back in 1936. He was not circumcised in Iceland. There was no rabbi nor a mohel (Jewish circumciser) in the country. Felix was circumcised in Copenhagen after his family had been expelled from Iceland in 1939. Felix had heard about the anti-circumcision parliament bill in Iceland and gave me his opinion, when I asked him:

I am very sad that the same political party, which expelled me and my family from Iceland, is still trying to exclude Judaism in Iceland and thus preventing Jews from settling there - very sad


Felix Rottberger, who is now 82, with one of his daughters Iris.

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1 Smámynd: Ţorsteinn Siglaugsson

The quote from Mr. Hermann Jonasson is really disturbing. I did not realize the cause of the deportation was andi-semitism pure and simple. We see this resonating today, but now the focus is more on keeping the country clean of Muslims rather than Jews.

Ţorsteinn Siglaugsson, 25.3.2018 kl. 12:51

2 Smámynd: Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson

Yes Ţorsteinn, these are the facts, which should have been published in all historical accounts about Framsóknarflokkur, but are unlikely to appear there any time soon.

According to historian Snorri G. Bergsson, who recently published an excellent book on the history of Icelandic xenophobia (See here) https://fornleifur.blog.is/blog/fornleifur/entry/2206939/ ) the same argument on the Pure Nordic Country was even sent in a letter to the Rottberger-family when they were expelled. It is kept in the National archive in Reykjavík.


Embassy Liaison C.A.C. Brun reports about Jónassons statement in his personal diary and glued a photo into it, showing the participants at the meeting.

The information about the letter sent with Alfred Kempner on his deportationcan be found in the National Archive in Copenhagen.

These sources are mentioned in my book Medaljens bagside (2005) which is available in some of the major libraries in Iceland.

Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson, 25.3.2018 kl. 16:40

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Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson
Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson



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